How do you fix the College Football Playoff system? Here’s the very easy, very doable, four step plan to make college football better.
So the world is finally waking up to the idea that the College Football Playoff system isn’t quite firing on all cylinders.
Georgia and Ohio State are two of the four best teams – at least Georgia is – and they’re out, because they have to be.
UCF has gone the entire Trump administration without losing a football game, and yet it’s barely even allowed to watch the College Football Playoff on TV, much less play in it.
After this last go-round of the CFP, sensibilities have been so offended that now a bunch of athletic directors and conference commissioners are grousing about wanting things to change.
And they’re right.
But there are a whole slew of objections from the naysayers who can’t fathom or handle anything taking away from the way things are, have always been, and always will be.
It’s time to change all of that.
Let me help everyone out here with the four step plan and idea that would actually 1) work, 2) make everyone a whole lot more money, and 3) cut through the crap and make college football smarter and better.
It all starts with this …
Step One: Accept The Premise That We Need An 8-Team Playoff
You’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating to stay on message.
Eight teams. The five Power Five champions (this year, Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Washington), the top-ranked Group of Five champion (UCF), and two wild-card, catch-all teams (Georgia, Notre Dame).
The Stupid Objection From Stupid People: “But … what about the ninth team? Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the ninth team that gets left out?”
Shut up. Stop saying stupid things. Ninth-best things suck.
If you can’t win your conference championship, or be good enough to fit into one of those two at-large slots, then that’s your fault.
Step Two: The Timing
The College Football Playoff starts two weeks after a later regular season finish – I’ll get to that in a moment.
The championship games get played on the first or second Saturday in December – depending on when that first Saturday falls – but the season starts earlier in August. What has been Week 0 for the last few years becomes the first week of the regular season – again, more on this in just a second.
The first round of the playoff gets plays on the third Saturday of December, and then the College Football Playoff format goes on like it does now two weeks later.
The Stupid Objection From Stupid People: “But THE FINALS … what about the school work? Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the STUDENT-athletes?”
Shut up. Stop saying stupid things. No one cares about mid-terms in the NCAA Tournament in March, and no one has a beef with the teams playing bowl games going on this coming weekend. The timing of doing it this way would take into account Finals Week.
This leads to me to the two key parts of this puzzle, starting with …
Step Three: The College Football Regular Season Expands
There’s an important reason for this which comes up next.
The regular season expands to 13 games that count. Again, we start around the third weekend of August and carry it on through to early December. There’s an extra game, but there are built in open dates so each school can get at least two, two-week breaks.
Yes, the conference championship teams have to play one extra game. Coaches and programs will adjust. They always do.
No … no one’s taking away anyone’s SEC Championship. We simply have to adjust the scheduling a bit.
The Stupid Objection From Stupid People: “But that’s too much football! Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the football players playing too much football!”
Shut up. Stop saying stupid things. They’re football players. They play football.
As long as there are breaks built in, ask 100 college football players if they want to play more and 119 will say, “of course.” And the ones that don’t are probably saving themselves for the NFL, and they shouldn’t be playing college football anyway.
Injury concerns? Simple answer: don’t play football. It’s bad for you.
The next part of actually answers all of that – almost all teams wouldn’t be playing more than 13 games.
Oh yeah, and the schools will make more money.
A 13th game for everyone allows the athletic departments guaranteed extra revenue and more scheduling flexibility. This extra game would replace a bowl game in a traditional way, because 1) there’s no need for bowl games anymore that don’t involve the College Football Playoff, and 2) most schools lose money going to bowls.
Which leads to …
Step Four: Eliminate The Bowl Season As We Currently Know It
The Stupid Objection From Stupid People: “But the bowls! … Won’t somebody PLEASE think of bowl games!”
Shut up. Stop saying stupid things. Other than the NIT, in no other sport are the exhibition games played at the end of the season.
There are two simple solutions to help the bowl system.
1) The first round of the College Football Playoff will be played at current bowl sites. The biggest of the bowl games – the Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, Cotton, Peach – would remain part of the CFP infrastructure, and then add three more to the mix, making one of them for the national title. For example, the Rose Bowl College Football Playoff National Championship.
That takes care of the nine most important of the 39 bowl games currently going.
2) As for the rest of the bowl games, simply get teams to play one of their final regular season December games in some location like Mobile, or Detroit, or Fort Worth, etc.
Just like some teams currently play early season games in the Whatever Pre-Conference Season Classic, you could have, for example, North Carolina playing South Carolina in the 2019 Week 13 Belk Bowl Classic, or TCU play North Texas in the Week 13 2019 Frisco Bowl, and on and on.
The stands would have real, live people in them, the games would actually mean something, and the bowl types would still get their fun – they’d just have to move the timetable of the games up a few weeks.
And best of all for the bowls, they could secure their matchups in advance and promote the heck out of them. Fans can make these Week 13/bowl games a destination months ahead of time instead of in just a few days.
The Stupid Objection From Stupid People: “But bowls are fun and they’re rewards! … Half the teams get to end the season happy! Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the coaches and alumni!”
Shut up. Stop saying stupid things. Almost half of the teams would end their seasons on a winning note with a Week 13 game, and again, for some, they would still go to a neutral site bowl location.
Yeah, bowl games are fun. But if nothing else, this would finally end our long national nightmare of stupid people’s stupid “there are too many bowls” hot-takes.
The Stupid Objection From Stupid People: “But ESPN! … Won’t somebody PLEASE think of ESPN!”
Shut up. Stop saying stupid things. ESPN would make just as much – if not more – revenue off an extra regular season college football game, especially considering all the teams will be playing.
The Stupid Objection From Stupid People: “But recruiting! … What about the December early-signing period! Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the recruiting … ”
Shut up. Stop saying stupid things.
This can all work.
It solves the College Football Playoff issue – it’ll be the fairest and strongest playoff in all of sports.
It solves the bowl issue – the fading importance of these exhibitions would suddenly receive a big boost, as long as the bowl people are just a wee bit flexible and can see the advantages.
It solves a revenue issue – athletic directors get more meaningful football money.
It solves all of the problems in college football, the bowl system, Brexit, climate calamity, what you’re going to get your mom for Christmas …